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A penny earned

Young adults start to look at saving for retirement

Thorunn Howatt
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Jan 09/02) - There's one word for a guy who celebrates his 18th birthday by investing in guaranteed investment certificates. Smart.

NNSL Photo

Young businessman Mark Near works at Yellowknife's Javaroma but is surely destined for greater things. Financial investment was at the top of his to-do list on the day of his 18th birthday. - Thorunn Howatt/NNSL photo

Mark Near became a legal adult last week and along with a birth certificate and health care card -- he wanted picture identification -- he was thinking about how to begin saving.

"I'm interested in getting into mutual funds, into the stock market. I've been reading lots of books," said Near, who works at Javaroma Gourmet Coffee.

The coffee house's owner, Adrian Bell, is responsible for arousing Near's interest in the business world. Bell owns Mainstreet Pizza as well as Javaroma. Near could be in line for a management position at the pizza parlour.

"I was interested in management before but he got me interested in investment," said Near, who didn't realize his interest until he was in Grade 12. "Now I'm set on it," he said. He plans to talk to an investment advisor within the next two months.

"I want to start with $3,000," he said.

Near said he knows that investing in bonds or the stock market won't make him rich fast, but he has big plans.

"I want to retire by the time I'm 45. That's my goal."

Near gets some of his information and inspiration from advice books like Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money that the Poor and Middle Class Do Not by Robert T. Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter. He doesn't like to read very much under normal circumstances but he can whip through an investment book in two days.

Oil and gas is the sector that interests him. "Pipeline. I want it. I want to invest in oil and gas. That would be good for us," he said.

But as long as Near keeps stashing a bit each year, he's on the right track.

"You get the power of compounding working for you," said investment advisor Bert Griffin from Yellowknife's Assante Financial Management Ltd.

"There is a thing called the rule of 72," said Griffin. He explained that if an investment earns 12 per cent annually it will double every six years. At nine per cent, the money will be doubled every eight years.

"So if he wants to retire when he is 55 then he has a 37-year time horizon and using the rule of 72 you can figure out how much $1,000 today will be worth in 36 years," said Griffin.

He would discourage Near from investing in a guaranteed investment fund because of his young age and suggested he put his money into a mutual fund. That type of fund is less safe but Near has lots of time for things to work out on average.

Griffin would advise Near to register his savings in a registered retirement savings plan. He doesn't run into many youngsters who are thinking ahead so wisely.

"I think the problem is the education system. They do not teach about investing," he said. But, his clients are getting younger and younger every year, he said.